Decades of Debris Awareness at CCS

Due to our location on the tip of Cape Cod, reaching out in the Atlantic Ocean, fishing gear has historically been the number one item on cleanups conducted in this area, but as you can see from the excerpts below, the problems associated with plastic debris have been on the Center’s radar for almost twenty years.

Exhibiting great team spirit and community joie de vivre the Center’s own Janet Young was instrumental in our winning the prestigious Best Adult Float Award in both 2008 and 2009 July 4th parades as Miss Marine Debris, bringing the issue to the masses in tasteful  yet rare form.

From the Coastwatch Archives

Nov/Dec 1988: “One project that we at the Center strongly urge our members to “take under wing” is the battle against balloon releases. These seemingly harmless events can be tragic for marine animals, as the balloons – made of non-biodegradable material – find their way into the ocean and, from there, often into the stomachs and intestines of sea creatures.”

Jan/Feb 1989: “The Center began 1989 with its Annual New Year’s Day Beach Walk. This year about 25 friends joined Center staff members Irene Seipt and Phil Clapham for an invigorating two-hour walk from Herring Cove to Wood End Lighthouse. Walkers also collected three large bags of trash, fishnet, and plastic containers. Our next edition of the newsletter will focus on the plastic pollution problem – including some suggestions on what YOU can do to help.”

Mar/Apr 1989: “Center Administrative Assistant Marilyn McKinney has been working on a fact sheet regarding plastics issues which will be mailed to all Center members shortly.”

Jul/Aug 1989: “Marine Plastics Pollution – We’ve had a number of requests from concerned members regarding details on the dangers of balloons and other plastics released into the marine environment. In response, staff member Marilyn McKinney did a great job of sorting through mounds of information to compile the following report [which constituted the entire newsletter]. ….Closer to home, beach cleanup efforts are demonstrating the magnitude of the pollution problem. More than 500 volunteers combed 30 miles of beach from Provincetown to Scituate and Swansea. An average of 167 pounds of trash were picked up per mile of beach. The most commonly found items were plastic bags, six pack rings and tampon applicators.”